Virtual Console is a specialized section of the Wii Shop Channel and Nintendo eShop online services that allows players to purchase and download retro games (mostly unaltered) for Nintendo's Wii and Wii U home gaming consoles and the Nintendo 3DS portable gaming console.

The Virtual Console lineup consists of titles originally released on past home and handheld consoles. These titles are run in their original forms through software emulation (excluding GBA titles on 3DS), and can be purchased for between 500 and 1200 Wii Points (Wii), US$2.99 and US$6.99 (3DS), and US$4.99 and US$9.99 (Wii U) depending on system, rarity, and/or demand. Virtual Console's library of past games currently consists of titles originating from the Nintendo Entertainment System, Super NES, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Wii, as well as Sega's Master System and Genesis/Mega Drive, NEC's TurboGrafx 16, and SNK's Neo Geo AES. The service for the Wii also includes games for platforms that were known only in select regions, such as the Commodore 64 (Europe and North America) and MSX (Japan), as well as Virtual Console Arcade, which allows players to download video arcade games. Virtual Console titles have been downloaded over ten million times. The distribution of past games through the Virtual Console is one of Nintendo's attempts at preventing software piracy.

List of Virtual Console gamesEdit


There were 38 titles of Famicom, Super Famicom, N64, Mega Drive, and PC Engine games available at launch on the Wii Virtual Console for the Japanese region. The Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console launched with 7 titles of Game Boy and Game Boy Color. New Virtual Console software is added on Tuesdays (Wii) and Wednesdays (Nintendo 3DS, Wii U) at 2:00PM JST and there are currently 659 titles for Wii, 244 (256 for Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors) titles for Nintendo 3DS and 466 titles for Wii U available.

North AmericaEdit

There were 12 titles total of NES, SNES, N64, and Genesis games available at launch on the Wii Virtual Console for the North American region. Two TurboGrafx 16 titles were added two days later on November 21, 2006. The Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console launched with 4 titles of Game Boy and Game Boy Color. New releases are added to the Wii Shop Channel and/or Nintendo eShop for Nintendo 3DS at around 12:00 PM EST/9:00 AM PST currently on Thursdays. North America saw its first release of Commodore 64 games on the service on February 23, 2009, and its first Virtual Console Arcade games on March 25, 2009. As of January 26, 2017, there are 398 titles for Wii, 172 (184 including those available for Nintendo 3DS Ambassadors and Donkey Kong: Original Edition) titles for Nintendo 3DS and 267 titles for Wii U available.

Though the Virtual Console lineup initially only covered games that had been released in North America, first George Harrison indicated in an interview that there was a possibility that Nintendo or other Virtual Console providers would localize Japanese games that have never been released in English. This later came to reality, and former Japan-only games have appeared on the North American Virtual Console. The first game to be added with such localization was Sin and Punishment from the Nintendo 64. While other previous Japan-only titles had been released through Virtual Console prior to this, the first being Battle Lode Runner from the TurboGrafx 16, added on April 23, 2007, this and all others were originally written in English and required no localization. Despite the fact others fit the category, there are currently 25 titles listed under the "Import" genre with 1 removed: Sin and Punishment, Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels (previously available in North America as part of Super Mario All-Stars), Ninja JaJaMaru-kun, Alien Soldier (although the game was previously available in North America through the Sega Channel), DoReMi Fantasy: Milon's DokiDoki Adventure, Puyo Puyo 2, Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa, Dig Dug, Gley Lancer, Super Fantasy Zone, Break In, Star Parodier (removed), Cho Aniki, Final Soldier, Digital Champ: Battle Boxing, Gradius II: Gofer no Yabou, Bomberman '94, Detana!! TwinBee, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, Pulseman, Secret Command, Street Fighter II': Champion Edition, Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Ironclad, Ufouria: The Saga and Monster World IV. Furthermore, at least two import titles (DoReMi Fantasy and Puyo Puyo 2) were released without any English translation, and thus only Japanese text is available in these games while Monster World IV was fully translated to English.

Third-party supportEdit

Unnamed Nintendo employees have reportedly speculated that licensing issues will be a predominant factor in determining whether a game is available for Virtual Console, giving the examples of GoldenEye 007 and Tetris as games that might be too expensive to license for the Virtual Console. Tecmo has announced its plans to "aggressively" support Virtual Console by re-releasing classic games. Though Tecmo did not specify which titles it intended to release, the company is responsible for many retro classics, such as Ninja Gaiden, Rygar, and Tecmo Bowl. Tecmo was the first third-party game developer to release a game on the Virtual Console (Solomon's Key for the NES). Since then, Capcom and Konami, among others, have also released titles. In 2015, Sega released Sonic Advance, the first Sonic title for the Wii U Virtual Console, but so far, only in Japan. It is unknown if the game will be released in North America and Europe.

Matt Casamassina of IGN reported that Rare titles absent of Nintendo-owned characters, such as Banjo-Kazooie and Perfect Dark, would be unavailable for purchase due to Microsoft's acquisition of Rare; some of these titles have since been released for Xbox Live Arcade, as well as on the Xbox One through the Rare Replay compilation. SNK has announced intentions to release the Samurai Shodown series and a few other games to the Virtual Console which has brought the Neo Geo AES to the list of consoles available. Midway had also planned to bring the classic Mortal Kombat games to the Virtual Console, but later sold the franchise to Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment when it filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Warner Bros. has not stated whether it will release the Mortal Kombat games to the Virtual Console. However, it was stated by Ed Boon (co-creator of Mortal Kombat) on his Twitter account that the SNES Mortal Kombat games have "0.0" chance of happening.

Differences from original gamesEdit

Nintendo has stated that the Virtual Console releases will be faithful to the original games, eliminating the possibility of graphical enhancements, customizable controls, or added online multiplayer features. However, for various reasons, the gameplay experience is not always identical to the original.


While virtually all Virtual Console games play identically to their original versions, some games have been altered cosmetically to address licensing and copyright issues. Tecmo Bowl (NES) originally included the names of real football players licensed from the NFL Players Association, but since the game's release, Electronic Arts obtained exclusive rights to the license; consequently, the names were removed from the Virtual Console version, with only the players' numbers being shown. Likewise, Wave Race 64—which featured Kawasaki logos on the title screen, jetskis and ad banners—had the logos removed from the title screen and jetskis, and the banners replaced with Wii and Nintendo DS banners due to licensing issues with Kawasaki. The Mega Drive/Genesis game The Revenge of Shinobi originally featured Spider-Man as a boss character, but because the license to that character had expired, the 2009 release for Virtual Console removes the Marvel copyright notice and changes the character to pink, but retains all of Spider-Man's behaviors and patterns. The Virtual Console release of StarTropics (NES) changes the name of one weapon from "Island Yo-Yo" to "Island Star", since Yo-Yo is a trademarked term in Canada.

Other games have experienced minor graphical differences from their original versions as well; most of these changes (as well as several others) were done due to Nintendo being more cautious about epilepsy, since many of the games during that time employed high flickering of color patterns that engulfed the screen. F-Zero (SNES) eliminates the track dimming when the player runs over the edges of the track, and Nintendo 64 games render polygons at a higher resolution than in their original hardware (though sprites and text appear blocky and pixelated by comparison). In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the screen turns red upon the player losing a life, whereas the original employed a rapid screen flash (Nintendo has yet to use such an effect since the Dennō Senshi Porygon incident in 1997).

The Wii and Wii U Virtual Console release of The Legend of Zelda (NES) uses the updated version featured in 2003's The Legend of Zelda: Collector's Edition compilation for the GameCube. While the gameplay is identical to the 1986 original, this release includes the save screen from the Famicom Disk System version, as well as an updated translation of the introduction screen.

The Wii U Virtual Console releases of the NES games appear to have been anti-aliased, resulting in some characters appearing more rounded or blurred compared to their original, Wii, and 3DS Virtual Console releases. The Wii U Game Boy Advance games have the graphics similarly smoothed, but give the player the option to toggle this effect on or off.

One significant difference in gameplay occurred in Kid Icarus (NES), which had its password system altered to disable certain special passwords that gave the main character special powers or large amounts of money, while also enabling new passwords to be found. Many players did not like this change, and the later release of Metroid, which used a similar password system, retained its original behavior. Similarly, Mario Golf originally had a code to enable password input for special tournaments, but had this feature removed for Virtual Console.

The title Donkey Kong: Original Edition was available via promotion on the Wii and 3DS Virtual Consoles, then later was made purchasable on the PAL Nintendo 3DS eShop. This game is a modified version of the NES release of Donkey Kong to more closely resemble the arcade version, and was originally featured as a mini-game in Donkey Kong 64. Both the NES version and Original Edition are available on the PAL Nintendo 3DS eShop. Despite never actually being released on the NES, the game is treated as an NES title but simply lists "Never Released" in place of the original release year.

Wii U Game Boy Advance games do not support multiplayer modes, Game Boy Player rumble features, sleep mode, or GameCube-connectivity. Similarly, Nintendo DS games made available on Virtual Console are identical to their original release, complete with Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection set-up screens; however, as the wireless features are not emulated, attempting to use online play or local wireless multiplayer features (such as in Mario Kart DS) will not function, especially as the original service has been only terminated about eleven months prior to the Virtual Console debut.

The Wii U Virtual Console re-release of Super Mario Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3 features all of the levels from the World-e section of the game unlocked automatically, including levels only released in Japan. This is done by a modified version of the game, where the levels are contained in the game's data and unlocked automatically. In the original game, the levels were unlocked using cards purchasable at various stores, which had dot codes on them containing the level data, and when scanned by the Nintendo e-Reader peripheral, saved the level to the game's save data for later usage without the card. While the original game could only fit 32 levels at any given time, the Virtual Console version has 38 levels in total, which includes every e-Reader card level ever released.

Game Boy games & Game Boy Color games on the 3DS Virtual Console don't support multiplayer modes (except for Pokémon Red, Blue, and Yellow). Game Boy Color games also don't support Game Boy Printer features, Infrared link features, and N64 Connectivity. NES Games also don't support Famicom data recorder features in games such as Mach Rider and Wrecking Crew.

External linksEdit

  • Nintendo - Official Nintendo of America Website
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